Resource management

Gentle, sustainable and economical

Munich Airport’s strategy for using natural resources is based on taking care of and being economical with these, and also showing a sense of responsibility toward future generations. The issues of waste and water management and the preparation of de-icers are particularly important.

Waste: high recycling rates

Flughafen München GmbH meets every single requirement in the German Waste Management and Product Recycling Act. The airport’s approach in this area begins with preventing waste products in the first place. Furthermore, any waste and scrap products from the operation of the airport – across the board – are collected where they are generated within various separating systems, handed over to certified specialist businesses close to the airport, prepared in sorting plants, and then recycled. The small proportion of residual waste that cannot be recycled is fed into the Munich North power plant for an energy recovery process for producing district heat and power. Flughafen München GmbH makes continuous improvements to the entire process chain as well as to the process for separating and sorting all waste and scrap material. Responsible and sustainable waste management is an enormous source of potential for generating secondary materials, while also helping to save on costs.

In the context of resource conservation, employees are able, for example, to dispose of light bulbs at special points in the workplace. A collection program for old cell phones was launched at the end of 2016, the objective of which is recycling valuable metals. Flughafen München GmbH has used exclusively recycled paper in line with the Blue Angel environmental label since 2016. New digital workflows, for example for business trip applications, also help to save paper.

Paper consumption

In thousand sheets of paper

Grafik: Papierverbrauch

The majority of waste and scrap material is generated by affiliated companies, the companies based at the airport as well as airlines. A custom-designed disposal concept tailored specifically to the party generating the waste is therefore essential for sustainable resource conservation: from the actual generation of the waste (potential ways to prevent waste) through to recycling and disposal (value created through sorting accuracy). FMG therefore provides regular information on current waste management concepts, gives tips on environmentally friendly conduct, and is on hand to help with advice. It therefore helps to protect the environment beyond the boundaries of the Group and to start reducing disposal costs at the point of creation.

In contrast to the previous year, the quantity of waste generated increased due to the launch of the satellite building, and other refurbishment, renovation, and destruction work. The recycling rate remained at a consistently high level.

Waste hierarchy

Grafic: Waste hierarchy

Disposal method

In tonnes

Grafic: Disposal method

Recycling instead of disposal

In 2016, FMG worked with AfB gemeinnützige GmbH, a charity that promotes work for people with disabilities. This integration company sold restored IT hardware to airport workers. The most unique thing about the project is that all of AfB’s workflows are accessible for people with disabilities, and performed by people both with and without disabilities. Reusing used PCs, laptops, printers, and cell phones therefore protects valuable jobs and helps to protect the environment, resources, and climate.

A responsible approach to water

The aim of water management at Munich Airport is to affect the natural water balance as little as possible and arrange the various effects caused by water resource management, drainage, and the provision of drinking and extinguishing water so that they have as little an impact as possible. Overall, FMG aims to achieve the following:

  • Minimizing the volume of wastewater
  • Separating waste water at the source, and treating and disposing of it separately
  • Only using drinking water where drinking water quality is really needed
  • Keeping wastewater away from sealed surfaces so as to prevent peak run-off
  • Making sure the condition of the groundwater and bodies of water above ground is not impaired

2.3 percent

less drinking water consumed per 1,000 traffic units

When compared to 2015 (1,042,166 cubic meters), drinking water consumption at Munich Airport remained at almost the same level in 2016 (1,050,791 cubic meters). This is because the airport takes an economical approach when handling drinking water. For every 1,000 traffic units (1,000 passengers or 100,000 kilograms of airfreight), specific drinking water consumption decreased slightly by 2.3 percent to 23.0 compared with 23.6 liters in 2015.

When it comes to resource conservation, FMG believes in the importance of handling drinking water as carefully and economically as possible. For example, quaternary groundwater close to the surface (process water) has been used for cooling power centers instead of precious tertiary groundwater (drinking water) since 2010. The process water comes from wells created by the airport. It has been used at the western power center since 2010, saving around 1,185,000 cubic meters of drinking water by the end of 2016. The new eastern power center has been using the same principle to supply Terminal 2 and its satellite building with cool air since 2015. In the satellite building, savings totaled around 36,000 cubic meters between the launch of operations and the end of 2016. Over the next few years, savings are expected to reach similar levels to the western power center.

Three further process water wells are due to open by early summer 2017 in a bid to save up to a further 50,000 cubic meters of drinking water per year over the next few years. Quaternary groundwater close to the surface is particularly well-suited to the following applications:

  • Construction water for concrete work and building site supplies
  • Runway cleaning processes using high-pressure equipment
  • Use in wet sweeping machines
  • Sewer rinsing measures
  • Watering of green areas, trees, and bushes

Process water instead of drinking water for air conditioning purposes

Sophisticated wastewater disposal concept

Several sewage systems stretching over a total length of 300 kilometers collect wastewater that takes a number of forms:

  • Domestic sewage, such as that from handling areas, offices, or staff facilities
  • Commercial wastewater from kitchens, canteens, and catering units
  • Wastewater generated when washing aircraft (may contain oil, kerosene, or heavy metals)
  • Mixed water from central area (dirty water and storm water)
  • Storm water from the aprons, roofs, roads, and parking areas
  • De-icing waste water during winter operation of runways and aprons, and a proportion from aircraft de-icing operations

Depending on the level of contamination, the water is pretreated in the airport’s own plants, retained, added to bodies of water, or sent to the sewage plant in Eitting. Regular quality controls ensure compliance with the requirements established by public authorities. Ground biofilters in the areas around the heads of the runways prevent de-icer, that can make its way into the surrounding green areas if the wind is blowing the right way, from making its way into the groundwater and contaminating it. At the same time, they are used to retain and clean the collected waste de-icer. The quality of the water is monitored and the total organic carbon is constantly measured using a TOC measurement system. Depending on the level of contamination, it may in future be routed to a body of water or – during harsh winters where lots of de-icer is used – sent straight to the sewage plant.

Wastewater disposal concept: various wastewater sources, their treatment, and disposal

Grafic: Wastewater disposal concept: various wastewater sources, their treatment, and disposal

Ground filtration system meets expectations

Regular inspections of the groundwater at the northwestern and northeastern heads of the runways prove that de-icing operations do not pollute the groundwater with organic substances thanks to use of the ground biofiltration system. A further ground filter to the east of the southern runway is currently under construction, while a fourth is in planning for the western part of the southern runway.

Aircraft de-icer cycle

In the areas near the heads of the runway, de-icing vehicles keep aircraft free from ice and snow before take-off. The de-icer dripping off the aircraft during this process finds its way via slit drainage gutters and channels into underground basins specifically designed to capture it. It is then mechanically and chemically treated in the airport’s own recycling plant, before being distilled and converted back to its original state through the addition of additives. Munich Airport’s process for recycling de-icer is the only example of its kind in the world. The recycling rate for the active glycol component in de-icer was around 51 percent for the 2015/2016 season. The average for the last few years has ranged between 41 and a maximum of 59 percent – depending on the weather and taking into account a level of energy consumption suited to the environmental footprint.

Aircraft de-icer cycle